White House Unveils an IT Spending Dashboard

During the run up to last years landmark election, then-candidate Barack Obama made a promise to appoint a federal Chief Technology Officer to oversee the federal IT infrastructure and data. In our primary endorsement of Obama, we said:

In the wake of 9/11, a glaring weakness was revealed in the FBI’s technology infrastructure. That has not been addressed. As one with first hand experience working for both the Department of the Navy and Health and Human Services, I can attest to technology tone-deafness. One candidate is proposing the creation of a CTO position to ensure that all government agencies are moving forward into the 21st century with modern technology at their fingertips. As a sidenote, how is it we don’t have a CTO already”

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At the time, and throughout the campaign, we were not clear that such a position would actually become two positions – Chief Information Officer, a position held by former District of Columbia CTO Vivek Kundra and responsible for the policy and strategic planning of technology efforts by the administration and the executive agencies, and Chief Technology Officer, held by Aneesh Chopra.

In a nod to government bureaucracy, Mr. Chopras actual title is Chief Technology Officer and Director for Technology in the White House Office of Science and Technology. Fit that on a business card.

Picture 6Mr. Chopra, who is a geeked out geek all by himself, was at the Personal Democracy Forum, a tech heavy conference with an emphasis on technology play within government, political action and open government, where he unveiled USASpending.gov. The new site provide a new dashboard for overview of spending across the federal agencies.

It’s an interesting website, for sure, from an administration who appears to have done its’ level best to open up the windows and the doors of government with projects like Data.Gov, designed to provide raw data sources to developers and those interested in digging inside the raw numbers, and Recovery.gov, designed to aid and assist in the economic recovery.

Certainly, the new IT Dashboard is incomplete and it seems they know that. Notably, it’s easy to get 50,000 foot snapshots in the form of a pie chart, but the data should be something that can be drilled into more than it already is.

Here’s a video demonstrating the use of the new dashboard.

Also, take a look at other articles about it.

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Aaron Brazell

Aaron Brazell is a Baltimore, MD-based WordPress developer, a co-founder at WP Engine, WordPress core contributor and author. He wrote the book WordPress Bible and has been publishing on the web since 2000. You can follow him on Twitter, on his personal blog and view his photography at The Aperture Filter.

5 thoughts on “White House Unveils an IT Spending Dashboard”

  1. Pretty good start for the IT dashboard, and I am glad this information is public. They definitely should allow this information to be broken up, exported and manipulated so that people can drill down into specific info they want to find. Great post Aaron

  2. I want to ask the Congress where’s the report of all expenditures and receipts? How about the Dept of Interior bill jammed through Friday June 26 while everyone was distracted by the staggering and unread Energy Bill???

  3. The site’s own tagline explains it pretty well, “A journey towards greater Transparency and Accountability. Analyze and Evaluate a portfolio of over 7000 Information Technology investments.” Basically it gives the general public oversight at a granular level of the key bits of federal IT spending. The front page has some neat summary information, essentially headline figures, that set out the proportionate spend so far this year.

    Nice decision to make such charts.

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